Re: [GTh] Re: saying 7 and Plato
- ----- Original Message -----From: M.W. GrondinSent: Sunday, December 12, 2010 7:58 AMSubject: Re: [GTh] Re: saying 7 and Plato[Dave Hindley]:> I dredged up this post ... [by Andrew Criddle]From April 22, 2007, as it turns out. There were a couple responses, oneof which was from Simon Gathercole (then a list-member, currently not.)Since that message cited a relevant paper, I'll link to it here:Unfortunately, Gathercole didn't say anything about what was in that paper,nor did any later writer, so his message was of little help to members whocouldn't get ahold of the paper, didn't know how to do so, or simply didn'tthink the point was worth the trouble of further research. Furthermore, thepaper was apparently relevant only to L.7, so it certainly shouldn't constitutean end of discussions here about possible Platonic connections, even ifnaked citations were discussion-enders, which they shouldn't be.(Naked citations are a pet gripe of mine which I won't indulge at present.)<SNIP>Beyond that, I've been thinking that the Thomasines' adoption of Plato'stheory of a pre-existing soul (apparently borrowed from Pythagoras) mayhave been a significant point of departure from proto-orthodoxy. I don'tknow the history on this, but as I recall, the orthodox (Catholic?) positionis that the soul is created with the body at conception, and thus has noprior history in the heavens to "remember" - a denial of what seems to bea key dogma of pretty much all forms of gnosticism. Indeed, Plato himselfexpounded upon the view that a person really doesn't learn geometry, e.g.,- "learning" consisting rather in one simply being prompted to recall perfectheavenly forms/ideas with which the psyche was familiar before it enteredthe body at conception.Gad, I just thought - someone has surely written a whole book about this!Mike G.
The Simon Gathercole citation
H. Jackson, The Lion Becomes Man: The Gnostic Leontomorphic Creator and
the Platonic Tradition (SBL Dissertation Series 81; Atlanta: Scholars
Actually refers to a book not just a paper. This book thoroughly discusses the relation of
texts like saying 7 of Thomas and related Gnostic texts to Platonic ideas.
- [Andrew Criddle]:> The Simon Gathercole citation
> H. Jackson, The Lion Becomes Man: The GnosticLeontomorphic Creator and
> the Platonic Tradition (SBL DissertationSeries 81; Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1985)
> Actually refers toa book not just a paper. This book thoroughly discusses the
> relation oftexts like saying 7 of Thomas and related Gnostic texts to Platonic ideas.Sorry, my mistake. The book (which I intend to order) is $26 at SBL:In answer to an offlist question, the term "naked citation" is one I made up onthe spot to designate citations that aren't clothed with any helpful information.Such as when someone says simply that "So-and-so answered that question insuch-and-such." OK, but what was so-and-so's answer? And what was his/herreasoning? The citer presumably has the book or paper, so why not provide asummary of the relevant information? To fail to do that is to my mind to claiman unwarranted special privilege.Cheers,Mike G.
- At 12:09 PM 12/12/2010, M.W. Grondin wrote:
...In answer to an offlist question, the term "naked citation" is one I made up on
the spot to designate citations that aren't clothed with any helpful information.
Such as when someone says simply that "So-and-so answered that question in
such-and-such." OK, but what was so-and-so's answer? And what was his/her
reasoning? The citer presumably has the book or paper, so why not provide a
summary of the relevant information? To fail to do that is to my mind to claim
an unwarranted special privilege.
I like your term. I get them a lot.
My usual practice is to ignore posts with naked citations. If the sender doesn't have enough time to tell me why I should open the link, then I don't have enough time to open the link.
Northern Arizona University
I'm going to respond to your response in stages (not too many, I promise).
Lion = Appetite soul just seemed natural to me, as a lion consumes it's prey. I can also see the Spirit soul being the
creature with the multiple and constantly changing heads (the spirited mind thinking quickly and creatively in order to take
However, you are right in that all the commentators I have been able to find have equated the lion with the Spirit soul. This
equation appears to be based on Republic 590b: "Aren't flattery and illiberality blamed when a man subjects this same part,
the spirited, to the mob-like beast; and, letting it be insulted for the sake of money and the beast's insatiability,
habituates it from youth on to be an ape instead of a lion?"
So, I stand corrected.
There are evidently three passages in Plato's dialogues that relate to the soul: Phaedo (from about 80 to 114), Republic
books IV (433-442) and IX (588-590).
"[T]he soul, as Plato conceives of it in the Phaedo, is crucially characterized by cognitive and intellectual features: it is
something that reasons, more or less well depending on the extent to which it is disturbed or distracted by the body and the
senses ... the soul, as it is conceived of here, is not simply the mind, as we conceive of it. It is both broader and
narrower than that. ... Socrates attributes a large variety of mental states (etc.) not to the soul, but to the (animate)
body, such as, for instance, beliefs and pleasures (83d), and desires and fears (94d). At the same time, the soul is not
narrowly intellectual: it too has desires (81d), even passionate ones (such as the nonphilosophical soul's love [erôs] of the
corporeal, 80b), and pleasures as well, such as the pleasures of learning (114e). ... The soul of the Phaedo in fact seems to
be precisely what in Republic 4 is identified as just one part of the soul, namely reason, whereas the functions of the lower
parts, appetite and spirit, are assigned, in the psychological framework of the Phaedo, to the animate body."
"The Republic also puts forward a new theory of soul, which involves the claim that the embodied human soul has (at least)
three parts or aspects, namely reason, spirit and appetite. ... Here is an outline of what emerges.
Reason is the part of the soul that is, of its own nature, attached to knowledge and truth. It is also, however, concerned to
guide and regulate the life that it is, or anyhow should be, in charge of, ideally in a way that is informed by wisdom and
that takes into consideration the concerns both of each of the three parts separately and of the soul as a whole (442c);
these concerns must be supposed to include a person's bodily needs, presumably via the concerns of appetite.
The natural attachment of spirit is to honor and, more generally, to recognition and esteem by others (581a). As a motivating
force it generally accounts for self-assertion and ambition. When its desires are frustrated, it gives rise to emotional
responses such as anger and indignation, and to behavior that expresses and naturally flows from such responses. Socrates
takes spirit to be a natural ally of reason, at least part of its function being to support reason in such conflicts as may
arise between it and appetite (440ef, 442ab). To assign it this function is neither to say nor to imply that spirit cannot,
in the case of a corrupt and de-natured soul, turn against reason, even if well brought-up individuals like Glaucon are not
familiar with such corruption either in their own case or in the case of others (440b). (Pace Robinson 1995, 45, who thinks
Socrates is contradicting himself here.)
Appetite is primarily concerned with food, drink and sex (439d, 580e). It gives rise to desires for these and other such
things which in each case are based, simply and immediately, on the thought that obtaining the relevant object of desire is,
or would be, pleasant. Socrates also calls appetite the money-loving part, because, in the case of mature human beings at
least, appetite also tends to be strongly attached to money, given that it is most of all by means of money that its primary
desires are fulfilled (580e-581a)."
Source: Hendrik Lorenz, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/ancient-soul/#3
Based on this analysis, the Coptic translator of Plato's Republic 588a-589b only sees through a glass darkly. While he seems
to catch the meaning of most of the passage, he does not accept it. Instead, he asserts "Good is he who has been done
injustice completely. He is glorified justly," apparently thinking that a certain just glory is to be attributed to a sage
such as himself who was been done injustice, and left with only his mind to occupy himself. The many-headed beast is able to
"eminate" so many different forms because "these are formed now with arrogance," not because it is natural to crave
gratification. Instead of the rhetorical question being "[Is he] affirming nothing else than that it profits him to feast and
make strong the multifarious beast and the lion and all that pertains to the lion?" he turns it around and states with
confidence "[No! W]hat is profitable for him is this: that he cast down every image of the evil beast and trample them along
with the images of the lion." Why? Because "the wild beasts [note the plural] keep it [the reasoning man inside] from
growing." He wants no part in taming and harnessing the many headed beast and the lion within, he wants them to be totally
Newton Falls, Ohio USA
From: firstname.lastname@example.org [mailto:email@example.com] On Behalf Of M.W. Grondin
Sent: Sunday, December 12, 2010 2:59 AM
Subject: Re: [GTh] Re: saying 7 and Plato
> ... the subject at hand can be determined to be how an unjust man does notA minor correction, Dave: in Plato's analogy in this section of the Republic
> really profit from his injustice, as he is really allowing his Spirit soul (the many
> headed creature) and his Appetite soul (the Lion) to grow at the expense of his
> Reason soul, to the ruin of the man as a whole. The just man's Reason soul,
> on the other hand, reigns in and controls the Spirit and Appetite souls, to the
> overall benefit of the whole man.
(not repeated elsewhere) the multi-headed creature is apparently the appetites,
while the lion corresponds to the "spirit soul". Plato writes of both as "brutes",
as you say, but if the "lion" of Th.7 is to be identified as a combination of two
parts of the Platonic psyche (as in your analysis), how is that preferable to the
alternate theory that the Thomasines simply had a different view of the psyche?
- Mike & Andrew,
I was able to find this description of Jackson's book in Janet Spitler's _Animals in the Apocryphal Acts of the Apostles_
In a monograph dedicated entirely to the interpretation of the enigmatic logion seven of the Gospel of Thomas (involving a
lion that becomes man), Howard M. Jackson concludes that "the lion as a symbol of sexual desire for Gnostic ascetics is but a
special application of a broader tradition that used beasts as metaphors of the PAQH [anything that befalls one: suffering,
misfortune]," a tradition that "stems from the likeness that Plato has Socrates paint of the human soul in the ninth book of
the _Republic_"(n109) The importance of the _Republic_ 588b-589b for gnostic authors is confirmed by the inclusion of a
Coptic translation/adaptation of the text in Nag Hammadi Codex VI. Whereas in Plato's original the lion has the potential to
confer benefit insofar as the individual is able to harness its spirited nature, in the Coptic version no such possibility is
acknowledged. Jackson concludes that "no ascetic could go so far as to allow himself any alliance with the savagely bestial
lion, whether representing Plato's QUMOS, or lust, or any other passion."(n110) Jackson further connects these notions of
animals in general and the lion in particular with depictions of the biblical demiurge. This wicked creator-god was often
understood as a theriomorph, as is the case with the lion-headed Ialdabaoth of the _Apocryphon of John_.(n111) According to
Jackson, this leontomorphic creator is the product of multiple streams of late antique thought, including (in addition to
Plato's inner lion) astrological, zoological and iconographical associations of the lion with the "lust for GENESIS,"(n112)
as well as the interpretation of various Hebrew Bible (particularly prophetic) passages in which Yahweh is described as a
lion or passages (particularly from Psalms) in which lions are associated with persecution. Jackson writes: "Gnostic enemies
of the creator in the form of the god of the Jews found such metaphors suitably savage and evolved in addition a tradition
which allegorized the 'lions' and other beasts of many Psalms, where they are already symbols for human or demonic
persecutors of the righteous (now the Gnostics), as figurative references to Yahweh and his ministers."(n113)
n109 Jackson ... [pg] 212. Jackson translates logion 7 as follows: "Jesus said: Blessed is the lion whom the man shall eat
and the lion becomes man; but foul is the man whom the lion shall eat and the lion shall become man" (1-2)
n110 Jackson, 209. Jackson continues: "This originally Platonic tradition using the lion and other animals as symbols of
passion continued to be a standard feature of ascetic Christian exegesis, both in its more orthodox as well as in its Gnostic
streams. The emergence of a gnosticised version of Socrates' parable in Coptic at Nag Hammadi attests, as it were, the return
of the tradition to its source and its reinterpretation in light of all the changes in outlook that six or seven hundred
years of water under the bridge had wrought. The document's redactor was an ascetic of precisely the same mold as, and
possibly indeed a member of, the second-century encratites who fashioned logion seven of _Gos. Thom._ and treasured the whole
n111 Cf. _On the Origin of the World_ 119.16-8 ...
n112 Jackson, 212.
n113 Jackson, 43. ...
Then there is Risto Uro , _Thomas: Seeking the Historical Context of the Gospel of Thomas_ (2003)
4. Demiurgical beliefs in Thomas?
Although many recent studies on Thomas do not support the view that one can find an ignorant or malevolent demiurge in the
gospel, scholars are not unanimous on this. The most thorough argument for a demiurgical tradition in _Thomas_ has been made
by Howard M. Jackson in his dissertation (1985) on Gos. Thom. 7. The riddle-like saying runs: Jesus said, 'Blessed is the
lion which becomes man when consumed by man; and cursed is the man whom the lion consumes, and the lion becomes man'.
Jackson's study is richly documented and offers an enormous amount of information about leontomorphic deities and
mythological figures in the ancient world. At the heart of the argument for the demiurgical interpretation of _Gos. Thom._ 7
stands in the fact that many gnostic sources from the one known by Celsus(52) to _Pistis Sophia_ describe the demiurge or his
archontic doubles in the form of a lion or, as in the _Apocryphon of John_, the form of the multi-faced beast, one of the
faces being that of a lion (the shorted version), (53) or in the form of a dragon with the face of a lion (the longer
The weakness of Jackson's argument is that the gnostic nature of _Thomas_ is simply assumed without any critical discussion
of the gospel as a whole. From that premises, the demiurgical traditions are taken as the key to the interpretation of the
saying. However, _Gos. Thom._ 7 is not a cosmological description of Sophia's bestial creation, unlike the texts referred to
by Jackson. The point of the saying is, as he himself admits, anthropological and psychological. In the last part of his
study, (55) Jackson makes an attempt to explain the saying on the basis of Plato's famous parable in the _Republic_
(588B-589B; a free Coptic translation of this section is found in NHC VI,5), in which the soul is likened to a creature
composed of three different forces: a many-headed beast, a lion, and man. This parable may be interpreted in the light of
Plato's idea of the tripartite soul, (56) the beast representing the baser passion, the lion the nobler passion, and the man
reason. According to Jackson, _Gos. Thom._ 7 is an expression of a 'gnostic psychology' which drew upon the Platonic
tradition. 'When the passions are under control, that is "devoured", by the man, they may be blessed because they have become
human.' On the other hand, 'when the inner man is weak and the lion unruly the man is "polluted" by the failure to bring
the lion to heel'. (57) The reason why the last sentence of the saying does not say, as one would expect for the sake of
symmetry, that 'the man shall become lion', (58) is based on Plato's theory of the transmigration of souls. Although the
human soul may live the life of a beast, it still remains a _human_ soul and thus cannot be transformed into a beast. (59)
_Gos. Thom._ 7 is thus explained against the background of the gnostic and Platonic traditions which were used by
'encratites' or 'ascetics' who coined the saying, (60) another assumption about the ideological framework of the Thomasine
sayings that Jackson takes for granted. (61)
The Platonic parable may be one ingredient of the enigmatic saying, but one can hardly decipher its meaning by Plato's theory
of the three forces in the soul. Why would the lion, representing the nobler feelings, stand for sexual passion, if the
saying had been modeled upon the Platonic trichotomous hybrid? Jackson's suggestion presupposes the identification of the
lion with the leontomorphic demiurge, which would then have been assimilated with the many-headed beast in Plato, but this is
very speculative and also presupposes the basic premises that the gnostic myth is behind the saying. However we interpret the
saying - the idea of the 'devouring' passion is certainly one possible reading (62) it cannot be used as evidence that
_Thomas_ suggests Sophia's monstrous creation, let alone the whole myth to which the feature belongs.
52) See Origen, _Cels._ 6.27-30.
53) NHC III 15.10-11 and BG 8502 37.19-21.
54) NHC II 10.8-9.
55) Jackson 1985, 175-213.
56) See, e.g., _Resp_ 435A-441C
57) Jackson 1985, 203.
58) This correction has often been suggested since the _editio princeps_. See Guillaumont _et. Al_. 1959, 5; Haenchen 1961a,
15; Leipoldt 1967, 57 (plausible); Ménard 1975, 56-57. Lührmann (1990, 395) suggests that the last sentence is either an
error or an addition by a Greek or Coptic scribe. For a critical discussion of the textual correction, see Jackson 1985, 4-7.
59) Jackson refers to _Phaedr_. 249B.
60) Jackson 1985, 207.212.
61) For a critical discussion of the view that _Thomas_ is encratite, see Uro 1998b.
62) The saying was doubtless open to various interpretations. Valentasis (1997,38) finds in the saying the principle that
relates eating to transformation and to a strictly demarcated hierarchy of being: human beings live higher on the scale of
existence than the lion. The lion is fortunate since it rises higher on that scale by having been eaten by a human, while,
according the same principle, the human is wretched, if the lion by means of his death and consumption succeeds in rising to
a higher status. This basic principle, I think, could be applied literally or metaphorically to various situations in human
life, of which the problem of sexual passion is but one. Didymos of Alexandria, for example, used the saying to illustrate
the teacher-student relationship (_Commentary on Psalms_, Toura Papyrus V; the text is cited in Lührmann (1990, 312-6).
It seems, then, that Howard M. Jackson falls squarely in the GoT as Gnostic camp. However, the only part of the Coptic
translation of the fragment from Plato's Republic that appears to my untrained eyes as possibly "Gnostic" (with capital "G")
is 588c: "Certainly it is a single image that became the image of a complex beast with many heads. Some days indeed it is
like the image of a wild beast. Then it is able to cast off the first image. And all these hard and difficult forms *emanate*
from it with effort, since these are formed now with *arrogance*."
On the other hand, I can see how the Coptic translator may have understood "lion" and "many-headed beast" differently than
Plato sets them up to be understood in books IV & VIII, equating the lion with sexual desire and the many-headed beast with
Newton Falls, Ohio USA
From: firstname.lastname@example.org [mailto:email@example.com] On Behalf Of M.W. Grondin
Sent: Sunday, December 12, 2010 2:59 AM
Subject: Re: [GTh] Re: saying 7 and Plato
> I dredged up this post ... [by Andrew Criddle]From April 22, 2007, as it turns out. There were a couple responses, one
of which was from Simon Gathercole (then a list-member, currently not.)
Since that message cited a relevant paper, I'll link to it here:
Unfortunately, Gathercole didn't say anything about what was in that paper,
nor did any later writer, so his message was of little help to members who
couldn't get ahold of the paper, didn't know how to do so, or simply didn't
think the point was worth the trouble of further research. Furthermore, the
paper was apparently relevant only to L.7, so it certainly shouldn't constitute
an end of discussions here about possible Platonic connections, even if
naked citations were discussion-enders, which they shouldn't be.
(Naked citations are a pet gripe of mine which I won't indulge at present.)
- Thanks for the information, Dave. From what I gather about Jackson's view,I think Risto Uro's critique of it is spot on (though I'm unsure about theaccuracy of a couple of terms that Uro uses for the Platonic view of the psyche).Unfortunately, I've already ordered the Jackson book, somehow assuming thatit wasn't as limited in scope nor as bound by preconceptions as it now appearsto be. Oh, well. Maybe there's some other stuff in there that'll make it almostworth 26 bucks in a limited budget. (I know; inter-library loan; maybe I'll getinto that some day. Is that how you got hold of the $100-170 Uro book?)Mike G.
Should've posted that info in 2 posts (increases your monthly post count!) but
they weren't *too* long, I hope.
Like you, Mike, I am pooooor. I simply did screen prints of the relevant pages
of their respective Google Books page and then transcribed the text. Fun fun.
Actually, I do remember Simon's post from way back, although I felt at the time
that Jackson was putting way too much emphasis on the lion symbolism (based on
what I could gather from the net). At the time I started to research the Plato
angle as well, but had to put a stop to the whole endeavor for lack of time (new
There was also an article by Andrew Crislip, "Lion and Human in Gospel of Thomas
Logion 7", Journal of Biblical Literature, Fall 2007 which is online in
fragmented form with plenty of scanning errors, but there are a number of
critiques of points made by Jackson that I can tease out of it:
Jackson assembles an impressive collection of material relating to leonine
imagery in Judaism, Greco-Roman mystery and astrological traditions, Gnostic and
Valentinian literature, and even Manichaean and Mandaean scriptures. The
cataloging and description of leonine imagery dominate the study, 187 out of 214
pages. Yet for all the weight of the Jewish, pagan, Christian, Manichaean, and
Mandaean leontomorphic imagery that Jackson assembles, it remains tangential to
the central interpretive crux of Gos. Thom. 7 and ultimately does not prove
decisive in explaining the meaning of the text.(13) The broad swath of
leontomorphic imagery really only sets the stage for the true interpretation of
the logion, which Jackson finds in the Gnostic reception of Plato's allegory of
the soul in the Republic.(14)
In the Republic, Plato sets forth "a symbolic image of the soul," consisting of
three forms "grown together in one," like "the Chimera or Scylla or Cerberus"
(Resp. 588d, 588c).(15) The three forms include "a single shape of a manifold
and many headed beast," "one of a lion," and "one of a man" (Resp. 588c; Shorey,
LCL). The interactions of the tripartite soul exemplify the just or unjust
actions of the person by their concord or discord.
... the presence of a Coptic translation of Resp. 588a-589b in the Nag Hammadi
codices (NHC VI, 5) makes it especially appealing to read Gos. Thom. 7 and
Plato's allegory intertextually, and it is to this aim that Jackson devoted his
... The [Coptic] extract [from Plato's _Republic_] is "ineptly translated,"
according to Jackson ...
Jackson's analysis ... shows how such a Gnostic reading of Thomas and Plato
could have worked in late antiquity.
But does this mean that Plato's allegory of the soul is necessarily the "key" to
unlock the allegory of Gos. Thom. 7?(19) In fact there are significant
difficulties in Jackson's interpretation of Gos. Thom. 7, particularly his use
of Resp. 588b-589b as an intertext. The first is the general dissimilarity
between the soul in Resp. 588b-589b and the lion and human in Gos. Thom. 7. The
second is the general "gnosticizing" framework in which his treatment of logion
7 is necessarily placed.
Jackson, in fact, notes some significant differences between Plato's allegory of
the soul and the lion and human in Gos. Thom. 7, specifically the more negative
valuation of the lion in the Gospel of Thomas, and explains this as a result of
the general Gnostic reception of Platonism, which entails a devaluation of
matter.(25) This leads to the other difficulty with Jackson's exegesis of Gos.
Thom. 7: his assumption that the Gospel of Thomas is a "Gnostic" text, rooted in
the full richness of the Gnostic myth as elaborated in classic Gnostic texts and
their Valentinian descendants. I do not wish to argue the point here, but the
Gnostic character of Thomas may by no means be taken for granted, and studies
taking a variety of approaches to the exegesis and source history of Thomas have
raised serious-even devastating-questions about the allegedly "Gnostic" nature
of Thomas.(26) In the end, Jackson's exhaustive treatment of Gos. Thom. 7 does
not convincingly solve the obscure saying.
Jackson ... has amassed an extensive catalogue of leonine imagery in ancient
Judaism, Platonism, Gnosticism, Manichaeism, and Mandaeism in search of the lion
as deity, demiurge, and passion, as noted previously.(47) But it is rather
striking that he makes no use of the predominant and most obvious use of leonine
imagery in the Jewish Scriptures: the lion as death. In fact, the elements of
the Jewish Scriptures that Christians used most readily in christological
exegesis, especially the Psalms and Daniel, draw especially on the lion as a
symbol of death.
13) I agree with Meyer that the leontocephalic deities "relate in only a
marginal way to logion 7 of the Gospel of Thomas" (review of Lion Becomes Man,
160); Jackson nearly admits as much himself (Lion Becomes Man, 183-84).
14) Yet the Platonic material has also been recognized as not directly relevant
to Gos. Thom. 7. Robert Hayward writes, "The Platonic material does not seem to
be quite as central as Jackson would wish to make it; indeed, he himself
candidly admits that the lion element in the soul is potentially good, whereas
the Gnostic leontomorphic demiurge is, by and large, irredeemably wicked and
malicious. The relevance of some parts of his final chapter may be questioned
for this reason" (review of Lion Becomes Man, JSS 33 : 288-90, at 290).
19) Jackson, Lion Becomes Man, 2.
25) Jackson, Lion Becomes Man, 202-3.
26) Specifically targeted toward Jackson's exegesis of Gos. Thom. 7 is Risto
Uro, Thomas: Seeking the Historical Context of the Gospel of Thomas (London/New
York: T&T Clark, 2003), 40-42. More generally, see, e.g., April DeConick, Seek
to See Him: Ascent and Vision Mysticism in the Gospel of Thomas (VCSup 33;
Leiden: Brill, 1996), 3-27; Antti Marianen, "Is Thomas a Gnostic Gospel?" in
Thomas at the Crossroads: Essays on the Gospel of Thomas (ed. Uro Risto; Studies
of the New Testament and Its World; Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1998), 107-39. Gregory
J. Riley, Res- urrection Reconsidered: Thomas and John in Controversy
(Minneapolis: Fortress, 1995); idem, "The Gospel of Thomas in Recent
Scholarship," CurBS 2 (1994): 227-52, at 229-32; Valantasis, Gospel of Thomas,
13-14. Whether and how Gnostics, Manichaeans, and others used Thomas has little
bearing on the question of the theological, ecclesiastical, or social setting of
the "original" Gospel of Thomas.
So, it looks like Jackson has argued for a Gnostic reading of GoT L7, but not
everyone is convinced by his interpretation of a possible Gnostic understanding
of Plato's theory of soul from NHC VI.5, and any possible intertextual
relationship between such an understanding and GoT L7. That was why I selected
other sayings from GoT that suggest to me a (simplistic?) understanding of
Plato's argument that the Reason soul must tame and harnass the Appetite and
Spirit souls before the man as a whole can act in a just manner towards self and
others, but not the anti-lion polemic of the Coptic translation of Republic
Whether Plato's theory of soul was "in the air" in Hellenized Egypt at this
time, with the Copt monks of the Pachomean monastery/farm having absorbed it
without being intimately familiar with Plato directly, or we simply have not had
the luck of other more philosophical works being preserved, I don't know.
Personally, I think GoT L7 can be interpreted from Plato's understanding of
soul, but not necessarily from the Coptic version of the passage from the
Republic preserved in NHC VI.5.
Newton Falls, Ohio USA
From: firstname.lastname@example.org [mailto:email@example.com] On Behalf Of M.W.
Sent: Tuesday, December 14, 2010 1:55 AM
Subject: Re: [GTh] Re: saying 7 and Plato
Thanks for the information, Dave. From what I gather about Jackson's view,
I think Risto Uro's critique of it is spot on (though I'm unsure about the
accuracy of a couple of terms that Uro uses for the Platonic view of the
Unfortunately, I've already ordered the Jackson book, somehow assuming that
it wasn't as limited in scope nor as bound by preconceptions as it now appears
to be. Oh, well. Maybe there's some other stuff in there that'll make it almost
worth 26 bucks in a limited budget. (I know; inter-library loan; maybe I'll get
into that some day. Is that how you got hold of the $100-170 Uro book?)